Dr Angela Breitenbach (Cambridge), Kant’s Conceptions of Science
Kant is well-known for his strict, even restrictive, conception of science. ‘Proper science’, as he calls it in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, is a body of cognition that is systematically unified, ordered by rational principles, and known with apodictic certainty. But not all science is proper science on Kant’s account. I show that, throughout his work, Kant also employs a broader, less-examined but equally well-developed, conception of science. I argue that we must understand Kant’s broad conception in normative terms: to qualify as science in the broad sense, a discipline must seek proper scientific status. Not all science is, but all science aims at, proper science. I show that making sense of the relation between these two conceptions brings out the teleological, practical, and pluralist dimensions of science on Kant’s account.